dis·​in·​gen·​u·​ous | \ ˌdis-in-ˈjen-yə-wəs How to pronounce disingenuous (audio) , -yü-əs \

Definition of disingenuous

: lacking in candor also : giving a false appearance of simple frankness : calculating

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Other Words from disingenuous

disingenuously adverb
disingenuousness noun

Disingenuous Has a Roman History

Ingenous has its roots in the slave-holding society of ancient Rome. Its ancestor ingenuus is a Latin adjective meaning "native" or "freeborn" (itself from gignere, meaning "to beget"). Ingenuus begot the English adjective ingenuous. That adjective originally meant "freeborn" (as in "ingenuous Roman subjects") or "noble and honorable," but it eventually came to mean "showing childlike innocence" or "lacking guile." In the mid-17th century, English speakers combined the negative prefix dis- with ingenuous to create disingenuous, meaning "guileful" or "deceitful."

Examples of disingenuous in a Sentence

"It's had nine murders since 1937—about the same as you would get in many small towns." This was correct, but a wee disingenuous. The AT [Appalachian Trail] had no murders in its first thirty-six years and nine in the past twenty-two. — Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods, 1999 … and he egged Badger on, asking a disingenuous question about the antivivisection rally in Cleveland, and as Badger took the thought up and chewed it over, the Doctor made as if to excuse himself. — T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville, 1993 … he has a disingenuous way of resorting to slang when he wants to make a big point but is afraid of sounding pretentious. — Karen Schoemer, New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct. 1993 Unity is at best an ideal, at worst a disingenuous political slogan. — Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday, 25 Nov. 1990 Her recent expressions of concern are self-serving and disingenuous.
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Recent Examples on the Web History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous and false defenses of this man. NBC News, "Meet the Press - November 3, 2019," 3 Nov. 2019 This article is inaccurate, disingenuous and mischaracterizes Match Group safety policies as well as our conversations with ProPublica. Kc Baker, PEOPLE.com, "Match's Parent Company Admits Sexual Predators Use Its Free Dating Apps Including Tinder, OKCupid," 4 Dec. 2019 In this respect at least, Collins was being disingenuous. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Republicans abandon constitutional originalism at impeachment hearing," 4 Dec. 2019 Critics, including migrants themselves, scoff at such talk as either clueless, disingenuous or both. ExpressNews.com, "Migrants hunkered down in crowded, filthy border encampment," 17 Nov. 2019 But Jesus Is King has been received coolly online, with many critics both inside and outside of the Christian community dismissing West’s pledges of faith as surface-level and disingenuous. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "How Kanye West's Controversial "Jesus Is King" Is Dividing the Christian Community," 1 Nov. 2019 Still, a lack of off-field knowledge about employees that a team has invested such enormous sums in seems strange at best, and perhaps willingly disingenuous. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "Trent Brown allegations test Raiders owner’s stand against domestic abuse," 16 Oct. 2019 Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, called those arguments by water agencies disingenuous. Phil Willon, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Newsom plans to veto bill that would have blocked Trump’s rollback of endangered species protections," 14 Sep. 2019 The anonymous and disingenuous statement NOAA tweeted out is a major breach of scientific integrity that damages the NWS and stains the agency’s leadership. Jason Samenow, The Denver Post, "NOAA’s support of Trump over its own scientists provokes uproar in weather community," 7 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disingenuous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disingenuous

1655, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for disingenuous

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The first known use of disingenuous was in 1655

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Last Updated

24 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Disingenuous.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disingenuous. Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for disingenuous


How to pronounce disingenuous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of disingenuous

formal : not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere

Comments on disingenuous

What made you want to look up disingenuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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